Synopses & Reviews
What Culture War?
Abortion, Gay Marriage, School Prayer, Gun Control
Is the nation really polarized on these hot-button moral, religious, and cultural issues? Should we believe the media pundits and politicians who tell us that Americans are deeply divided?
No, says Morris Fiorina. At a time when the rift between the “red” and “blue” states can seem deeper than ever, Fiorina debunks the assumption that Americans are deeply split over national issues. He presents quite a contrary picture — that most Americans stand in the middle of the political landscape and are in general agreement even on those issues thought to be most divisive.
Poking holes in the concept of a “culture war,” Fiorina explains that the majority of Americans are both moderate and tolerant, and that their greatest concerns are leadership and security, not moral values. Supporting his position with election data and a variety of public surveys, Fiorina concludes that the view of a divided America is simply false and that by recognizing our common ground, we have a basis for creating a more unified and moderate approach to government and politics in the near future.
A new epilogue relates the 2008 campaign and election to the general argument of the book, looking at the people and issues affecting the road to the White House in 2008, and speculating on what lies ahead for (un)polarized America.
Morris P. Fiorina is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and the Wendt Family Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. His work has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and he is the author of several books, including Divided Government and The New American Democracy.
"Whatever happened to the culture wars? Americans don't argue the way they used to, at least not over hot-button cultural issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. Andrew Hartman has produced both a history and a eulogy, providing a new and compelling explanation for the rise and fall of the culture wars. But don't celebrate too soon. On the ashes of the culture wars, we've built a bleak and acquisitive country dedicated to individual freedom over social democracy. Anyone who wants to take account of the culture wars--or to wrestle with their complicated legacy--will also have to grapple with this important book."
"A War for the Soul of America illuminates the most contentious issues of the last half of the twentieth century. In lively, elegant prose, Andrew Hartman explains how and why the consensus that appeared to permeate the nation following World War II frayed and fractured so dramatically in the 1960s. With keen insight and analysis, he shows that the Culture Wars were not marginal distractions from the main issues of the day. Rather, they were profound struggles over the very foundation of what it meant to be an American. In tracing the history of those conflicts over the last half of the twentieth century, Hartman provides a new understanding of the tensions and processes that transformed the nation."
"A valuable addition to the growing body of literature historicizing the post-Sixties era. . . . Classic intellectual history. . . . Thoughtful and thought-provoking."
"Andrew Hartman has worked with a deft hand and a keen mind to give us an absorbing account of the last half-century of culture wars in the United States. By digging far beneath the cross-fire style of political rhetoric that bombards us today, Hartman shows how the seismic changes in American society, most notably in the struggle to create a more equal and inclusive democracy, unleashed a fierce conservative attempt to hold on to a world that was escaping their grip."
"Hartman's richly researched intellectual history makes a major contribution by taking late twentieth century conservative political culture seriously. A War for the Soul of America is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the fierceness with which so many Americans continue to defend themselves against feminism, immigration, gay rights and racial equality in the twenty-first century as well."
"The culture wars were about more than porn, rap lyrics, and Piss Christ, Andrew Hartman shows in A War for the Soul of America. They were fundamentally about divergent visions of national life. This is a lucid and powerful book that explains much about our own time."
"A provocative review of a formative epoch."
"As a guide to the late twentieth-century culture wars, Hartman is unrivalled. . . . Incisive portraits of individual players in the culture wars dramas. . . . Reading Hartman sometimes feels like debriefing with friends after a raucous night out, an experience punctuated by laughter, head-scratching, and moments of regret for the excesses involved."
"A lively chronicle. . . . Mr. Hartman's book makes two major contributions. The first is his framing of the ‘culture wars’ debate from its earliest days. . . . His second major contribution is his conclusion that the culture wars are over."
"An unparalleled guide . . . making sense of the polarized politics that have plagued the USA for the past four decades. . . . Hartman's central point is that the debates were deadly serious, asking fundamental questions abotu who we are as a nation, and about who we want to be. . . . In his efforts to provide an overview and explanation of the culture wars, Hartman is to date without peer."
Updated in a new 3rd edition and part of the "Great Questions in Politics" series, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America
combines polling data with a compelling narrative to debunk commonly-believed myths about American politics—particularly the claim that Americans are deeply divided in their fundamental political views.
Authored by one of the most respected political scientists in America, this brief, trade-like text looks at controversial and hot topic issues (such as homosexuality, abortion, etc.) and argues that most Americans are not polarized in relation to them.
Package consists of:
0205518079 / 9780205518074 Is Voting for Young People? With a Postscript on Citizen Engagement (Great Questions in Politics Series)
0205779883 / 9780205779888 Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America
0205780164 / 9780205780167 New American Democracy, The
When Patrick Buchanan took the stage at the Republican National Convention in 1992 and proclaimed, There is a religious war going on for the soul of our country,” his audience knew what he was talking about: the culture wars, which had raged throughout the previous decade and would continue until the centurys end, pitting conservative and religious Americans against their liberal, secular fellow citizens. It was an era marked by polarization and posturing fueled by deep-rooted anger and insecurity.
Buchanans fiery speech marked a high point in the culture wars, but as Andrew Hartman shows in this richly analytical history, their roots lay farther back, in the tumult of the 1960sand their significance is much greater than generally assumed. Far more than a mere sideshow or shouting match, the culture wars, Hartman argues, were the very public face of Americas struggle over the unprecedented social changes of the period, as the cluster of social norms that had long governed American life began to give way to a new openness to different ideas, identities, and articulations of what it meant to be an American. The hot-button issues like abortion, affirmative action, art, censorship, feminism, and homosexuality that dominated politics in the period were symptoms of the larger struggle, as conservative Americans slowly began to acknowledgeif initially through rejectionmany fundamental transformations of American life.
As an ever-more partisan but also an ever-more diverse and accepting America continues to find its way in a changing world, A War for the Soul of America reminds us of how we got here, and what all the shouting has really been about.
What were the culture wars all about? Through the 1980s and 1990s, politics, art, media, schools, and the culture at large were roiled by seemingly unending public battles over gender, race, sexuality, music, and religion. A War for the Soul of America is the first full-scale intellectual history of this period, tracing the histories and influences of key figures, institutions, publications, and alliances--from the Moral Majority and the NEA Four to Madonna and William F. Buckley. Hartman argues that these conflicts were not cynical sideshows that obscured larger economic and political revolutions; rather, he sees them as the key ways in which Americans came to terms with changing demographics, communities, and conceptions of American identity. Hartmans balanced and fair-minded assessment of the time before Fox News and Lady Gaga will change the way you look at public controversies of all kinds.
About the Author
Andrew Hartman is associate professor of history at Illinois State University and the author of Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Third Edition
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
1. Culture War?
2. If America is not Polarized, Why Do So Many Americans Think it is?
3. A 50:50 Nation? Red and Blue State People are Not That Different.
4. A 50:50 Nation? Beyond the Red and the Blue States.
5. A Closer Look at Abortion.
6. A Closer Look at Homosexuality.
7. Have Electoral Cleavages Shifted?
8. The 2004 Election and Beyond.
9. Reconciling Micro and Macro.
10. How Did It Come to This and Where Do We Go From Here?
Epilogue. The Road to and from 2008